Category Archives: The City

CAN’T KEEP A SECRET

written by John Bueter, 

comments by John Jonelis

Wow!  Who can resist this?  Take a look-see at this invitation from John Bueter, famous fly fishing personality. 

I’ve printed the letter below along with recent local photos so you can see what’s going on over there.  This is the perfect getaway for a Chicago entrepreneur! Check it out:

The ONE, The ORIGINAL, The ONLY 

SALMON CAMP ‘18

A Tradition for 28 Years!

September 28-30

Well, kids, it’s THAT time of year again!  The excitement of the season is overwhelming, as the River comes alive with HUGE fish. Our target species is the mighty King Salmon in the wild and scenic Pere Marquette River.  This area is FLY RODS ONLY.  No spinning gear.  No snagging.  No treble hooks welded to spark plugs.

Last season’s fish weighed in heavier than normal.  This year they’re even LARGER, with documented catches off shore of 40+ pounds!  Bring your big guns, Kids!  We’ll be hosting festivities again at the Bueter Compound.

The 24 hour Campfire tradition continues, providing the backdrop for the usual hijinks, exchange of regional information (mostly lies), recounting of the day’s adventures (again, mostly lies), and permanent cementing of friendships.  Campers are encouraged to use the showers to control the fly, bear, and buzzard problems.

The spirit of mentorism and camaraderie will flourish once again.  Proven fly patterns, proven knots and rigging—all demonstrated.  Maybe some new stuff, too.  Be sure to bring your tying gear—you’ve got things to offer and learn!

We’ve manned the barbeque pit. All the usual suspects will again prepare a super-duper-up-north dinner Saturday night, and a breakfast that will revive the near-dead.

There’s always room for newbies—no matter your level of experience.  Remember the founding concept of Salmon Camp: “This is too much fun to keep to ourselves!”

Lookin’ Forward to fishin’ with y’all !!!

Your Master of Salmon Mayhem,

John Bueter

Is that a compelling invitation or what?  Wanna go?  Well, yeah!  I get to chase 40 lb salmon with a fly rod? Who wouldn’t want a thrill like that?  Let’s go early! 

I particularly like the legal jargon on their “catch and release” form:

“…Illegal substances, firearms, and spinning tackle are not welcome in Camp…Camp “crashers” will be found, drawn and quartered, and their hides nailed to the fence so as to discourage others.  This Camp will go on rain or shine—NO WHINERS.  We encourage good stewardship of our resources, and will not tolerate scofflaws.”

Never fly fished before?  Neither did the gal who caught a 40 lb Chinook last year.  Didn’t stop her.  Oops—guess I just can’t keep a secret. 

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Here’s the place:

  • Bueter’s Salmon Camp 3200 South James Road, north of Baldwin, MI 49304
  • RSVP John or Rhonda Bueter via phone, ‘e’mail, or snail mail, so we don’t run outa bbq sauce & eggs.  Office 231-745-3070, Cell  248-345-1402,  j.bueter@sbcglobal.net , Website www.cloud9baldwin.com
  • Cost for Salmon Camp ’18:   $135

Hey, that’s a bargain!

Pack this stuff:

  • Michigan all-species fishing license
  • Big Dog Fly rod (8-9-10 wt) a spare is not unwise
  • Quality Reel with super-smooth drag
  • Sink-Tip Flyline
  • 12 pound tippet, or higher
  • Lots and Lots of flies (Note: max size #4 single point hook)
  • Waders, Boots, Wading Staff
  • Hook Hone, Nippers, Pliers [Hemostats are worthless here]
  • Big Landing Net (17 inch handle max)
  • Polarized Glasses
  • Flashlight, Lantern, Headlight [Important!]
  • Rain Gear, Appropriate Clothing
  • Tent, Sleeping Gear, Personal Stuff
  • Don’t Forget yer Bubba

Read: ALIEN ABDUCTS FISH,

THROWS FISHERMAN BACK

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 Read: TOO MUCH FUN

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Photo Credits

Various photographers as posted by John Bueter on Facebook, just prior to the event.

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Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money..Copyright © 2018 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, chicago, Chicago Ventures, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Events, Fishing, fly fishing, Heartland Angels, Hyde Park Angels, Impact Engine, Innovation, Innovation and Culture, investor, Kellogg, MIT Enterprise Forum Chicago, MITEF, salmon fishing, Startup, startup company, The City, the great outdoors, vc, Venture, venture capital

SECRETS DARK AND OLD

by John Jonelis

“I still say da guy deserves what he got. He ran down dat poor animal on purpose! Hates squirrels. Says so in da papers.” So proclaims Loop Lonagan regarding Alderman Brookins of Chicago’s 21st Ward.

“Is not true! Right here in Chicago Tribune, it read—how you say—kamikaze squirrel.” Donatis Ludditis thumps a stout digit on a newspaper headline and continues in his broken English. “Creature attack alderman. Throw itself into wheel of bicycle in suicide attack! Here is proof, see?” He points to a photograph—a photograph that Brookins took himself. It shows the murdered animal lodged in the spokes of his ruined bicycle. “Newspapers in whole country print story.” says Ludditis. “Not one say alderman cruel to animals! Not one time!”

Photo by Alderman Brookins

Lonagan clutches his brow for a long moment. “So yer tellin’ me dat ever’body believes dis guy’s story?”

The Brookins story has re-surfaced in news outlets because the man is up and taking nourishment after recovering from major injuries. At the time of the accident, he was credited with some rather peculiar remarks. Apparently, because of his vigorous opposition to the eastern gray squirrel and his call for the extermination of the species, the local underworld of tree dwelling rodents staged a coordinated and premeditated suicide attack against their arch nemesis. Now he’s on his soap box, again garnering support for his cause. It makes me wonder if this guy read too many comic books in law school.

Lonagan abruptly pounds a fist against my desk. After an involuntary flinch, I roll back my chair to examine the man from a somewhat safer distance. “Okay, lemme tell you a story ‘o my own,” he says. “One fine day, I run down some neighborhood kid—on purpose—’n’ he gets stuck behind da front wheel o’ my Cadillac er Lexus, er whatever politicians drive deeze days. So whaddaya think I do?  I climb outa da driver’s seat and snap a pic o’ da corpse ‘n’ post it online. Den I say, da kid launched hisself at my car’s front wheel in an effort t’ kill me, ‘cause I been crakin’ down on neighborhood gangs.”

“I object! Loop, that’s just awful.” But I’m too late to squelch the horrid image.

Lonagan raises both arms, palms open. “See? You’se is never gonna get anybody t’ buy a story like dat. What makes dis squirrel any different?”

“I not know,” says Ludditis. “Back in old country, if you damage party member limosine, you pay! No matter how it happen. Is politics!”

Howard Brookins speaks to the medea – Nancy Stone, Chicago Tribune

During this exchange, Jim Kren’s face—never a pleasant sight—screws up tighter and tighter in what I always take as a combination of anger and spite. I’ve been watching him and waiting for an explosion. It begins with a slow leak. “You two judicial giants know nothing whatsoever of the true ramifications of this matter,” he says. “I can tell you a thing or two about the eastern bloc squirrel. Some of it will curl your hair. People know they are astoundingly cunning rodents, but there is more—much more!”

Kren looks to be on a roll. “This eastern bloc squirrel represents the most monstrous and pernicious plot against humanity since the fluoridation of water! We face a much larger threat than that posed by the proliferation of common vermin. These squirrels are more capable than rats and possess a much higher intelligence!” Kren gets increasingly loud and shrill. “Eastern bloc squirrels look out for their kind and know who is persecuting them! If you thwart their plans, they figure a way to take care of the problem! Nothing can stop them from getting what they want!”

Lonagan takes a seat, shaking his head in hopeless abandon. I’ve heard Kren utter such a sentiment before, but never an inkling of this political angle. The man bears watching.

Greedy Guts the Squirrel

“Agents of sedition started smuggling these iconoclasts to our shores decades back!” shrieks Kren. “And they now represent the dominant species! Think of it! Squirrels in your own back yard—the place where your children play! Your children! Talk about infiltration! And they remain there all night, listening to your every word! They meet in secret, pass on intelligence, and formulate plans!”

“So,” says Lonagan with a smirk. “How d’ya figure they listen in on City Hall?”

Kren doesn’t miss a beat. “Don’t be so naive, MISTER Lonagan! In an era of central heating, do you actually believe they cannot gain easy access to any building they choose through the HVAC system? Certainly, gentlemen, it is child’s play for the eastern bloc squirrel to monitor a city council meeting and plan a counter-attack! I could show you one of their secret websites! It disseminates information about these scheming rodents to their craven human allies! It’s written in a code—a code colloquially known as poetry—a cryptic language few speak any more. Let me show you an excerpt.”

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There are secrets dark and old

Things that make the blood run cold

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Facts that twist the human brain

And plunge the mind into pain

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Knowledge that is from long ago

That man was not meant to know

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But the squirrels know

Don’t have a problem with it

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.See video performance by Bob Badpoet

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“Gentlemen, what to you say to that?!!!” Krens interogatory smacks of satisfaction—like he’s busting out with a SO THERE! “If you truly want to gain an inside knowledge of the malicious nature of these animals, here is this!”

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.I am the rodent of your discontent

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From the bushes I listen as you vent

I know what you said and what you meant

For I am the rodent of your discontent

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For my services I charge no rent

I encourage every argument

Behold the rodent of your discontent

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What I do earns me not a cent

But your anger has a sweet scent

Savored by the rodent of your discontent

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Gnawing on your house until my strength is spent

Just to add to your torment

Despair of the rodent of your discontent

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I would follow no matter where you went

So that new troubles I could invent

Fear the rodent of your discontent

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See video perfomance by Bob Badpoet

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Kren leans forward and speaks in a more secretive tone. “Most do not know that these eastern bloc squirrels plotted world dominance long before the era of modern totalitarianism. Men are putty in their paws! Have any of you read the squirrel manifesto? No? It is the most outrageous collection of hate and bile uttered by any animal since the beginning of time! I keep an excerpt with me—it is written in the same foul poetic code.”.

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I come seeking nuts and seeds

To get them I do dark deeds

Fear the squirrel

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I take what I want in food

Even if it hurts your mood

Fear the squirrel

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I sneak into your house at night

At your groceries I bite

Fear the squirrel

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Many wonder how I know

Where it is your food you stow

Fear the squirrel

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Such knowledge is not hard

After all I live in your yard

Fear the squirrel

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I know secrets lost and deep

I gather them while you sleep

Fear the squirrel

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I whisper dark knowledge in your ear

Tell you what you don’t want to hear

Fear the squirrel

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Madness stalks the dreams of man

It is all part of the plan

Fear the squirrel

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Or you could leave out some sunflower seeds

Up to you

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See video performance by Bob Badpoet

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Lonagan opens his eyes wide and his nose almost touches Kren’s. “So I take it you’se is sidin’ with da Alderman?”

“Yes!” says Kren, squaring his shoulders and pushing back. “I take the good Alderman’s side on this issue—and not without reason! I know!  The eastern bloc squirrel is alien to everything we stand for! I can no longer permit alien infiltration, alien sedition, and the international eastern bloc conspiracy to sap and impurify our entire way of life!”

Time for me to pull rank. “Gentlemen,” I say. “Let us repair to the front room for some refreshment. I have another matter to discuss.”

The front room of our magazine offices is Ludditis’ bar.

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Go to Part 1 – TAKING ONE FOR THE TEAM

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Source Material & Links

Kamikaze Squirrel Gets Revenge on Ald. Brookins

Chicago Tribune

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Alderman, victimized by squirrel, still fighting trash-seeking furry rodents

Chicago Tribune

 

Bob’s Bad Poetry

You Tube

Bob Badpoet

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This magazine fully endorses Bob Badpoet but the remarks by Kren, Lonagan, and Ludditis do not necessarily express the opinions of the editor or this magazine.

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Graphics and Other Credits

Poetry by Bob Badpoet

Dead squirrel photo by Ald. Howard Brookins

Photograph of Howard Brookins by Nancy Stone, Chicago Tribune

Bob Badpoet graphic by Jennifer Jonelis

Wildlife photography and Tavern graphic by John Jonelis

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Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money.
.Copyright © 2017 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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Filed under Characters, chicago, city, Conflict, Innovation and Culture, Jim Kren, loop lonagan, public servants, the chicago machine, The City, the great outdoors, the machine, Whack jobs

NO GOAT

no-goat-500by John Jonelis

This thing still replays in my mind. And the news is everywhere!

“The last real American sports story—the story of the team that couldn’t and seemingly never would—is gone for good… [Rick Morrissey – Sun Times] Now I watch in shocked delight as the Cub’s sleeping bats come alive! A leadoff home run…

“…ending more than a century of flops, futility and frustration.”   [Ronald Blum – Associated Press] …now more runs—a lot more runs, but way too many innings left to go…

The Cubs won their last title way back in 1908 “At the time, Theodore Roosevelt was president, New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska and Hawaii were not yet states, and the first Ford Model T car was two weeks old.”  [Ronald Blum – Associated Press] …I hear our first baseman, Rizzo, caught in the dugout on an open mike, saying, “I can’t control myself. I’m an emotional wreck.”

“The longest championship drought for any continuously operating pro team in North America – nay, the world…we never truly thought this would happen. We joked about not seeing the Cubs win it all in our lifetimes. We said that with grins when we were young. We reached middle age, and we said it with blank faces. We grew old, and it curled off our lips like, yes, a curse.” [Rick Telander – Northwest Herald]

Yup, that about sums it up for me. A hundred and eight years! Why should anything change today vs. the Cleveland Indians? Somehow the Cubs will find a way to lose this thing.

Baseball from MS Word T2

The Replay

Again, the events of the game run through my mind. “No, Maddon, no!”   Why yank Hendricks when he’s on a roll? He can pitch himself out of trouble.  At least let him finish the inning. After that, you’ve got nearly enough pitchers to use one for each out. Even Jake can take a batter or two. But the manager doesn’t hear me. In goes Lester. The guy’s got the numbers but this ain’t his night.

Out comes Chapman, the one-inning wonder-closer, who hurls the ball at 105 mph, now pressed into way too many innings for way too many games.  Before long, he’s pouring sweat, his face in anguish. “Take him out! Can’t you tell he’s out of gas?” He hurls the next pitch and the Cubs blow the final three-run lead with two outs in the eighth. When he reaches the dugout, he weeps. And the same cynical, “Maybe next year,” settles in my mind.

Now the 10th inning. The rain delay. The Indians intentionally walk Rizzo. The batter shortens his swing. “In a situation where some of his teammates would have swung for the outer reaches…Zobrist settled for making contact.” [William Graves – Associated Press] The rally! The win! Ben immediately points skyward, giving God the glory, but they award him the MVP of the World Series.

Eight to Seven—every run counts! The game of a lifetime! “…something that no one alive has ever seen happen before.” [Rick Telander – Northwest Herald] I watch the after-game mayhem, the unbounded joy, as if in a trance. The team carries the retiring catcher, Ross, off the field! I’m numb—stunned—and it hasn’t all sunk in.

Now the parade! Where is Sianis’ goat?

ron_santo_autograph

Heros

So I grow up with both the Cubs and Sox, collecting their trading cards, arguing over which team is best. But Ron Santo and Ernie Banks are my heros. Those guys are the top of the heap. I’m eight years old when Santo visits my Cub Scout troop and I shake his hand in awe.

But those two guys never make it to the post season during their careers. Now they’re both dead and in the Hall of Fame. Maybe this game is played out by Dexter, Rizzo, Bryant, Schwarber, Russell, Zobrist, Baez, Heyward, Contreras, Ross, Montero… But for me, this win is all about those two heros from my childhood.

ernie_banks_autograph

Quick Comparisons – Chicago Teams

  • The Bears won nine championships: 1921 as the Chicago Staleys, and then in 1932, 1933, 1940, 1941, 1943, 1946, and 1963. They didn’t win for another 22 years—the glorious 1985 Superbowl. That was 31 years ago, but who can forget?
  • The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup six times: 1934, 1938 and 1961, then after a 49-year dry run, they triumphed spectacularly in three recent contests—2010, 2013, 2015. If one were to chart their history like a stock or futures contract, a momemtum trader might suggest the semiannual pattern indicates they’re due again this year. On the other hand, a technical trader may see a triple top, similar to a security that’s reached its ultimate peak. But I’m hoping for another win this year.
  • The Bulls won six NBA championships but not until the 1990’s when Michael Jordan woke them from their slumber. With him they pulled it off in 1991, ’92 and ’93. Then Jordan retired, tried baseball for a couple years, and the team went back to sleep. When he returned, they won in 1996, ’97 and ‘98. Two three-peats in eight years. Since then they’ve slept soundly for a good 18 years.
  • The White Sox won the World Series three times. Eleven years ago, in 2005, they thrilled Chicago, sweeping the series in four straight games—their first championship since 1917 and 1906, bringing back baseball honor to Chicago after an 88-year dry spell.
  • The Cubs also won the World Series three times—back-to-back in 1907 and 1908, but not again till this year. 108 years!

Yet amazingly, the Cubs enjoy an enormous national fan base. On this, the seventh game of the World Series, enough Cub fans show up in Cleveland to make it seem like a home game. StubHub sells seats behind the dugout for $10K each. Yes, this is the Cubs—one of Chicago’s oldest startups.

 

Image Credits:

“No Goat” by John Jonelis, MS Office

Baseball Cards from Baseball Almanac

 

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com

Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2016 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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Filed under big money, chicago, Chicago Startup, Chicago Venture Magazine, Events, Risk, Startup, startup company, The City

THE DRAGON LADY AND THE BIG BAD DUCK

The Donald T

By John Jonelis

               ■ 

“Tell me a story, Uncle Loop.”

“Okay Princess, that’s what I’m here for. First let’s get you all tucked in and ready fer bed.” Loop Lonagan sits back in the chair and opens the news app on his phone. “Let’s see what we got here.” He runs down the headlines.

  • “GANG SHOOTING ON HALSTED—No that’ll just get ya all riled up.”
  • “TERRORISTS ABDUCT CHILDREN—Nope. Too scary.”
  • “LOCAL REP ACCUSED OF EMBEZZLEMENT—”

“What’s ‘bezelment, Uncle Loop?”

“Ferget it kid. Way too boring . Here’s another one.”

  • “TRUMP IN BED WITH CLINTON—”

The small voice turns suddenly shrill. “That one! Read me that one, Uncle Loop. It’s a bedtime story.”

“I dunno, kid. It’s politics. Yer daddy and mommy’ll kill me.”

“Please, Uncle Loop. PLEEEEEEZE!”

Gimme a minute t’ think.” Lonagan goes silent and scans the article.

  • Trump runs a false flag campaign...
  • Third party run expected…
  • Speculation of collusion with Clinton…

Sheesh—Kren might have him up on charges for corrupting his sweet little girl with stuff like that.  Jonelis could sic the Business Plan Police on him and he’d never see the light of day again.  Isn’t this Trump bozo some kind of family—even if John can’t stand the guy and they never talked to each other?

Business Plan Police

At this point Loop’s 85 pound bull terrier, Clamps, saunters in and jumps on the bed. Princess hugs him tight.

“C’mon, Uncle Loop!”

“Yeah, yeah, pipe down, I’m still thinkin’”  So what’s he supposed to do?   Disappoint a kid?

20150825-The Donald - BusinessInsider

After all—are these two goons really the best we can find to run for President of the United States? Maybe beauty’s in the eye of the beholder but the thought gives him a headache.

20150825-The Hillary - The Marker Cafe

“Hurry up, Uncle Loop!”

“Yeah kid.” He licks his dry lips, then takes a tug of Scotch for inspiration. What grade are ya in at school this year?”

“Third!”

“Growin’ up so fast! Old enough to read this stuff all by yerself, arn’tcha? Okay, you close yer sweet little eyes and Uncle Loop is gonna tell ya da whole rotten mess.

A Loop Lonagan Bedtime Story

“Let’s say yer on da playground fer a free-fer-all soccer game. EVER’BODY plays! One team’s called da Jackasses—I mean the Donkeys. Other team is da Elephants. Okay?”

“Okay Uncle Loop!”

“Captain o’ the Donkeys is an older 5th grade girl. Kids call her da Dragon Lady. Captain o’ da Elephants is another 5th grader dey call Boring B. Bland—B3 fer short. Deeze is da biggest kids AND da best soccer players.

“Dey pick players one atta time from da heap, so’s both sides is even. Youse is hopin’ you don’t get picked last, cause dat’s a real disgrace. I seen it where some poor schmuck don’t get picked at all! But B3 calls yer name and ya feel real good. Ya trackin’ with me?”

“Um hmmm.”

Soccer Ball

“Okay, then dis big bully shows up. All da little kid’s call ‘im da Big Bad Duck ‘cause he wears a funny thing on his head, sticks out like a beak. He never played with da little kids before but now he wants t’ be an Elephant. Pretty soon, he starts throwin’ his weight around, sayin’ he oughta be captain. Claims he’s a better player den B3. He’s got a real regulation soccer ball instead o’ that cheap kickball they been usin’. A couple o’ da kids wanna go with him.  Ever see it work dat way, Princess?”

She smiles and nods.

“Okay, ever’body at school already knows da Dragon Lady ‘n’ da Big Bad Duck is pretty good friends with each other. What nobody understands is this: Before recess, da Dragon talked da Duck into playing fer da Elephants. It’s a special secret deal between dem two.”

“But that’s not her team! If he’s the best player, why does she want him on the Elepants?”

“Ah, yer a smart little one! Just wait ‘n’ see! Da game gets started.  After a while, an argument breaks out. Turns out mosta da team don’t want da Duck t’ be captain.  So he says he’s gonna take his ball ‘n’ go play his own game. Sound familiar?”

She nods again.

“And he takes a few o’ da kids from da Elephants with ‘im—summa da best players, too. So whaddaya think ever’body else does? Do they pick new teams?”

“No, Uncle Loop. They keep playing because the bell is going to ring and recess will be over.”

“Right, and who wins the game?”

She chews a finger. “I suppose the Donkeys, because they have more players.”

“Right again. Da Dragon Lady got da Big Bad Duck to split da team. He ran a false flag, like it says here in dis article. Dat’s yer lesson in Chicago-style politics on da national stage—at least fer tonight. Hey, you don’t look sleepy yet.”

Clamps & Bone

Princess squeezes Clamps tight, like a big stuffed bear.  “Tell me another story!”

“Hmm.” Loop pulls out his phone and runs down the headlines. “Lemme see what else we got here…”

Read the rest of the story:

TRUMPED

 

Sources: Time Magazine and Black Bag

Image of The Donald courtesy Business Insider

Image of The Hillary courtesy The Marker Cafe

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2015 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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Filed under big money, Characters, chicago, Economics, Education, Entrepreneurship and Politics, Fiscal Policy, loop lonagan, The City, the machine, Whack jobs

CLOSER TO HEAVEN

Canada 2014-8843ATas told by Mark T Wayne

Danger and deprivation make up the joys of any wilderness expedition. Have you ever heard an adventurer speak of anything else? I have not, sir! Our bold band is bound for a rare excursion! Today, we hope to try our mettle against the Canadian Wild!

I wake early in a Winnipeg hotel eagerly anticipating the last leg of the trip to our remote outpost. To my disgust, this day again serves up low clouds, fog, and thunderclappers chasing in from the northwest. Time is running thin. If we cannot reach our destination today, we must return home, tails between our legs, helpless victims to the evil of modern air transport. So far, our party has lost two souls and a full day of fishing! We will not tolerate any more delays!

Bad news! Winnipeg International Airport is closed due to the perils of nature! I expect we will remain in this teaming metropolis until the weather lifts and we return to Chicago, discouraged, demoralized, and none the wiser.

Jonelis gets on the horn. I hear the name Loren Bukkett uttered and then John cuts the connection and announces he has arranged a flight! My esteem for the man moves up an inch—a mistake as events will reveal.

Mark T Wayne

A shiny new van arrives to haul eight hearty survivors to our bush plane. Bill Blair immediately crawls to the roof of the vehicle—a surface large enough to accommodate his enormous torso—and lies down for an opportune nap. We run a couple straps across his midsection, just as a precaution and the rain holds off, allowing Blaire a peaceful sleep all the way to the floatplane. His rhythmic rumble elicits rude hilarity from one-and-all. To appreciate the fidelity of his snore, one must grasp the scale of the man. Call him the Paul Bunyan of Chicago.

One wonders how a pontoon plane will break water with such a giant aboard.

That question becomes a matter of serious financial speculation among our rowdy crew. But Jonelis smiles knowingly and refuses to indulge in the wager. I admire integrity in an expedition leader. A gentleman never bets on a sure thing. And his refusal portends foreknowledge! Vision! On the other hand, he booked this trip and actually may know precisely what to expect.

I will outline the plan as I understand it: A bush plane will insert us deep in the Canadian Wilds. Our destination is 500 miles north of Winnipeg—far north of Musky habitat—a land where the ferocious Northern Pike gets its name and grows to prodigious proportions. No towns. No roads. Nothing but Jack Pine, Birch and Big Lakes for hundreds of miles! That is right sir! Our magazine staff is headed for a fishing excursion in the lake country of Northern Manitoba and maybe—just maybe we will survive the journey.

Pontoon Plane - Flintaero

 

Friends experienced in this sort of travel give me to know that it will require as many as three Cessna floatplanes and two fuel stops to haul the lot of us to such a remote locale. We will slowly wallow through the sky, each plane well over legal weight with barrels reeking of gasoline and cases of beer serving as passenger seats. Such a trip requires the entire day. We arrive near dark, our guts puked out, refusing food and barely able to walk.

I ruminate on the veracity of this horror story and whether our plane will make three trips, when our van abruptly stops at a private strip beside a neat King Air—the most lavish of executive turboprops—tricked out in soft leather seats. When Jonelis borrows an airplane, he does the job right!

This is his friend’s craft, but John betrays that it is essentially identical to one the lodge charters. Apparently, such luxurious transportation is the norm at outposts so far north.

Canada 2014-8863

Someone forgot to fit this plane with pontoons. After we untie Blaire from the roof of the van and jar him awake, I inquire.

Turns out, the typical floatplane route is impractical for such vast distances. Our outpost actually carved out a landing strip in the rugged forest, quarried their own gravel, and used the trees to build cabins. That is raw determination, sir! Perhaps in the lower States we have forgotten but the frontier spirit still lives in the North Woods!

This plane comfortably accommodates all eight of us—and by removing two seats, even Bill Blaire settles in without difficulty. He uses a convenient luggage tie-down in lieu of a seatbelt. This is real flying as originally intended. SPEED—wonderful SPEED is the order of the day, just as it was in the glory days of aviation. No execrable lines. No officious and probing security! No ground delay or gnashing of teeth! This ain’t Chicago, Mr. Mayor!

Rather than a full day, this trip will take under an hour and a half! We will be on the water and fishing by 10:00 this very morning! We are getting closer to heaven!

Bush Pilot

I have been told that I will meet a crazed bush pilot—one such as Brian Dennehy—Rosie from the motion picture NEVER CRY WOLF.

A Bush pilot’s job may seem dangerous to American sensibilities, but flight in the wilderness requires a combination of skill, intrepid resourcefulness, and dauntless courage lacking in our unionized flight crews and their innumerable regulations.

No pilot appears.

Jonelis hands a magnum of Grant’s whiskey to the vile Loop Lonagan, and while our group passes the bottle and indulges in coarse jokes and raucous laughter, my suspicions start acting up: How is it that our plane will depart when those at a major international airport do not?

Canada 2014-8091A

Once Jonelis sees us securely strapped in our seats, he personally slips into the cockpit and dons a set of headphones. I take that to mean only one thing!

No bush pilot is crazy enough to make the journey in this weather!

My instinct for survival goes into full panic mode. With wisdom born of a long life, I fumble with my seatbelt. I wish to disembark this flying coffin—IMMEDIATELY!

My hands shake and over my loud objections—before I can set myself free—the props are spinning!

Canada 2014-8852A

With no other airplane in sight, we immediately take off into the gloom!

I am now closer to Paradise than my original intention! Reversed is my strong aversion to all those meticulous safety procedures at O’Hare Field! I now favor the other side of the argument!

Dark cloud cover swallows us. Violent turbulence throws me about in the seat and I tighten my belt so as not to violently strike my head on the roof of the cabin.

Jonelis’ mad voice oozes from overhead speakers as if this were any other day. He speaks in that slow confident drawl common to all pilots. “This is your captain speaking. Due to favorable tailwinds, we will reach our destination at zero nine hundred. Please keep your seatbelts fastened in case of turbulence. In the event of a low ceiling at or destination, we will divert to Thompson.”

Canada 2014-8112A

Presently we dive then level off. Then without warning, we break free of the clouds. Our “pilot” has discovered smoother air, and indeed, the rugged ride abates—somewhat. I glimpse views of wilderness scenery.

Then that insanely calm voice again: “You may move about the cabin. Refreshments are located in the box at seat 2B. Please keep your belts fastened while seated.”

I crouch low and squeeze down the aisle to the front, where I help myself to delightfully hot coffee, a pleasant breakfast of Egg McMuffins, and five tiny bottles of Jack Daniels Sour Mash. I squirrel these treasures in my pockets and hold the rest tight to my chest as I return crabwise to my seat.

Canada 2014-8108A

While the rest of the passengers continue their wild celebration, oblivious to the danger, I speculate on the lunatic at the controls. Does he know how to land this thing?

In the space of an agonizing hour, Jonelis is circling.

Outside the little window, I spot an airstrip. Is it the right one?

As the madman shoots the approach, the aircraft again bucks and yaws like a bull at a rodeo and I spill sour mash across my fine white suit. A roaring wells up in my ears, and my head aches.

I utter my final prayers.

Canada 2014-8107

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Go to next installment – FISH STORY

Back to beginning – ROUGHING IT

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Photography by John Jonelis. except for Mark T Wayne, Patrick Dennehy from Tail Slate, and Pontoon Plane from FlintAero
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Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2014 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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Filed under alcholics, big money, Bill Blaire., Canada, Characters, chicago, city, Innovation, Innovation and Culture, Invention, investor, loop lonagan, Mark T Wayne, new companies, The City

ARISE 2.0

DSC_5954by Loop Lonagan

Whadaya think happens when 15,000 people get behind the entrepreneurs in their own neighborhood?  Good things—that’s what happens!  Energy.  Enthusiasm.  Stuff gets done!  Lemme tell you about it:

This is Loop Lonagan reporting and tonight I’m watchin’ a guy pitch his new venture like a Gospel Preacher workin’ up a frenzy on da pulpit!  I hear his bold words.  This guy believes in hisself—and why not—he’s growing a thriving business!  This is the Arise 2.0 accelerator and it’ll change our city fer the good.

(Hey, this thing gets my Irish up.  So ‘scuse me if I don’t sound smooth.)

Arise 2.0 gives Chicago a whole new slant on business.  They ain’t here to make a few people rich.  No, they build up local business so they can build up da local community.  Business is just a means to an end.  The goal is healthy neighborhoods, jobs, prosperity all around.  That’s the real end game here

DSC_6011

Arise already put together all the stuff of success plus a big kicker:  They got Investment—half a million in seed money.  They got the University o’ Chicago.  They got Tony Wilkins from Hyde Park Angels.  They got 1871—a great space to birth an accelerator.  They got a Ten-Year Action Plan that’ll pump out four new companies every year.  Yeah, they got all o’ that.  The kicker is da power of 15,000 people from the Salem Baptist Church because Rev. James T. Meeks figured out this great way to help his community.

You wanna bet against them odds?  I’m here to take yer money if yer patsy enough to try.  We’re talkin’ Free Enterprise nurtured by Da Church.  There’s a whole lotta motivation and commitment here.  This model could spread across the map!

 

Mentorship

Tony Wilkins runs the Arise 2.0 Accelerator.  I know Tony.  He’s smart.  I figure him for the brains o’ the operation.  Tonight he gives us a story about how to drive success.  Lemme say this slow so I get it right.  Here it is in his own words:     

DSC_5913I’m on my 537th business flight.  Southwest Airlines.  Isle seat.  A gentleman comes in last and squeezes into window seat beside me.  He looks jittery and nervous.  I ask him, “Are you okay?”

“Sorry sir.  This is my first time on a plane, I’m a little nervous.”

“It’s okay,” I say.  “It’s fine, don’t worry about it.”

The plane goes up.  But half way through the flight, he’s having problems.  He’s sweating.  He’s fidgeting.  I say, “Hey, the hard part’s over.  We’re in good shape.  The pilot wants to land just as much as we do.” 

“I understand, but I had something to eat last night and I have to apologize to you in advance, ‘cause this is not gonna work out well.”

DSC_5914So in my best mentorship mode I say, “You know…there’s a bathroom on the plane.” 

“PRAISE THE LORD!  WHICH WAY IS IT?”

 So mentorship worked out for him.  And it worked out for me.

If people knew better, they’d do better—like my travel companion on Southwest.  Everybody’s had somebody in their life who’s made a comment, performed an action, did something that made them say, “I can do that!”  So just presenting them with that information is often the most powerful thing in the world.

And they’ll become mentors to successive companies.

DSC_5915Accelerators across the country do the exact same thing.  We bring in mentors who, because they once had mentors, come and say, “I’ll spend an hour and a half.  I’ll spend an evening.  I’ll sit and talk to these companies.”  And many stick with them. It gives folks a higher perspective. 

Tony also passes on the knowledge to run a business:  How to hire and fire.  Marketing.  Funding.  Legal.  Operations.  Pitch practice.   “But,” he says, “the most important thing is mentors because that means contacts and business relationships and exposure to risk capital so these businesses can expand, become sustainable and scale.  If you remove barriers to mentorship and capital, good things happen.  We don’t know exactly what’s gonna happen—we’re just gonna have good things happen.” .

 

Church Business

I figure all o’ youse is wondering about the same thing.  The Church and business working together?  DSC_6147“Absolutely!” says Jamell Meeks, the pastor’s wife who oversees this bold initiative.  “The Bible says where your treasure is your heart will be.   So you can know a person’s heart by where they put their treasure.”  I gotta read that book fer myself.  Father Lonagan always said to leave it to da professionals, but I dunno.  Maybe I sound ignorant once in a while.  But I hate to actually be ignorant.

DSC_6133David Storch from AAR CORP is backing Arise with piles o’ da green stuff.  “It’s the entrepreneurs that make things happen,” he says. “They’re the lifeblood of the community.  Politicians talk about buzzwords like education.  But it’s really hard to talk about that when you don’t have food on the table or a roof over your head. But if you touch more people, you will build more successful businesses, which will create jobs, stimulate the economy, allow for education, which creates equality, creates opportunity, which we desperately need as a city, as a nation.

Steve Rogers from da Harvard School o’ Business once said, “The transformation of a community really begins with people within the community becoming great entrepreneurs.”

After that great quote, Pastor Miles Dennis of Second Baptist says, DSC_5995“We’ve almost forgotten—forgotten that entrepreneurship is the great transforming agent to turn around our communities.  They will change lives and yes, they will employ many people.  They will help others to become entrepreneurs.  The entrepreneurial spirit is alive!” .

 

Da Companies

Da competition fer each spot is super fierce.  A thousand companies wanted in but they whittled it down to these four.  These is Chicago-style companies—small outfits with allota upside and da gumption to grow.  Lemme tell you a little about ‘em:

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DSC_5939THE FROCK SHOP—Chicago’s Designer Rental Service

Jennifer Burrell Jen@frockshopchicago.com

Visit their website [click here]

How come us guys can rent tuxedos but da women gotta buy them fancy dresses?  And after a gal spreads her photo all over Facebook, she won’t wear that dress again.  But there’s something about da confidence beautiful designer dresses give women. Gals used to buy an outfit, hide da tag then return it after an event.  But nowadays the department stores is wise.  So Frock Shop’s got the rental business figured out and they’re thriving.  They’re gonna use online sales to scale fast.  Jennifer says, “Visit the Frock Shop where you can borrow the dress and keep the memory.” .

 

DSC_5983RS INDEPENDENT HOME HEALTH CARE

Ted & Reena Williams rena.williams@rsihhc.com

Visit their website [click here]

89% of seniors prefer to stay home and age gracefully.  30% need some kinda help.  This company goes into the home, cooks meals, gives meds, does laundry and housekeeping, takes ‘em to the doctor, and acts as companions—a whole lot more service than the usual rent-a-nurse.  And that means you can spend quality time with yer parents during those last years. They already got a contract with the veteran’s administration and they partnered with the Cancer Foundation.  This one’s creating jobs. .

 

DSC_6008

MA’S BEST

Brian Smith  brianearl2001@yahoo.com

This is a traditional baking operation, but when this guy describes eating his dinner rolls, it makes yer mouth water.  They already sell at 18 Chicago outlets.  Competitive advantages:  Better product.  No middleman.  Direct from oven to the store. Their direct competitors each do $137M a year and Ma’s Best outsells them 2:1 wherever they get shelf space.  Industry as a whole is $115B.  As Brian puts it, “That’s a lot of bread.” .

 

 

DSC_6084bSWISH DREAMS

Kenya Mercer  kdrew@swishdreams.org

Visit their website [click here]

Kids do lousy in school ‘cause they’re bored.  Kenya says, “Let’s give our kids the core academic values and let them have fun doing what they love—all at the same time.”  So they teach literacy, leadership, and physical fitness as one program.  And they get double-digit gains in literacy, fitness, and leadership on da assessment tests.  This one plans to expand nationwide. .

 

 

Salem Baptist Church LogoSALEM BAPTIST CHURCH

Pastor James T Meeks  info@sbcoc.org

……………………………………………..Visit their website [click here]

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DSC_5921ARISE 2.0

Tony Wilkins  tonywilkins76@gmail.com

Visit their website [click here]

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The accelerator strategy has three distinct components:

  • Remove barriers to mentorship.
  • Give broader perspective, contacts, and knowledge.
  • Structure risk capital to expand.

Check ‘em out.  Maybe be a mentor.  Maybe an investor.  But don’t sit on yer hands—da future’ll pass you by. .

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Loop Lonagan’s articles are verbatim as told to John Jonelis

Photography by John Jonelis

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money. .Copyright © 2014 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved . .

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TOUGH LOVE

Sandee 15TTechbash – Part 5

John Jonelis

This is a story about raw love. Tough.  Rugged.  Unashamed.

I’m at i.c.stars—the premier social incubator in Chicago—and I find myself a bit overwhelmed by it all. I stop in to thank Sandee Kastrul, their President and Co-founder and she pours me some hot coffee.

“I think,” She says, “that at the end of the day, there are three things that you should know about us:

  • We’re positioned as an opportunity, not a charity.
  • Rather than exploit our interns, we exploit our CIOs.
  • We’re funded by the technology industry—not the government.

Those seem to me rather interesting assertions for a social venture. But she goes on to explain:

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It’s a Business

“If we were a charity,” She says, “it would ruin the product—destroy the brand. If you say, let’s give these poor kids a chance, give them a job—it’s charity, not business. Their job each day is not just to learn the technology—not just to learn the software—but to change perceptions about what it means to be a young person entering this field without a college degree. To be a person of color. To be someone who’s overcome adversity. icstars-hq11

“And so everything is about, not what Johnny WAS, but what Johnny DOES. We never exploit the stories in the past. One person is homeless or 30% of our folks are ex-offenders, or whatever it is—we never discuss that. It’s what Johnny DOES. That’s a very important differentiator.”

I sip my coffee. So that’s why I didn’t hear any personal histories in their introductions. I thought at the time that it was intentional but hadn’t known the reasoning behind it.

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Don’t Exploit the Talent

“Another thing is that I would much rather exploit the CIOs than our interns. We have an agreement. We give the CIOs jobs. For instance, at the TechBash event, we make them into celebrity bartenders. We get them to blog and sell sponsorships to all their potential customers. Just to be with the interns for that period of time cost them extra money and the ticket price is already $250. And so they know that they are doing their share and lending their name. That’s hard for the introverted CIOs but they do it.”Sandee 19

That takes me by surprise. “Those C-level bigshots from major corporations are introverts?”

“Oh sure—they’re technology people.”

She makes it sound so plausible, like—Of course, what do you suppose? But now she’s moving on:

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Industry Funded

“The third thing is our economic engine: We don’t have any government funding. We’re funded by the technology industry. And so this CIO network is what keeps us afloat. We’re able to leverage those relationships.”

“They see it as an investment in their own companies?”

“In talent, yes. And they’re able to grow their leadership. icstars-hq10And each of them remembers when they first started out in technology. They all went to boot camps. Whether that was GE or Continental Bank—it’s this idea of an intense experience. When they come to Tea—if that’s their first step—they’re blown away by the reciprocity, by the passion, and they say, ‘I wish my team could do that.’

“I actually heard one of them say that.”

That gets a big smile from Sandee. “When they ask our interns their questions, they get a real surprise. This is not typical. It’s not like going to business school and saying, ‘Well how did you do this?’ You know—that sort of interview routine. Here, it’s really about having intimacy and building a connection with someone.

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Alumni Evangelists

“Then the interns become evangelists for the organization.Sandee 13 That’s a very important part of changing perceptions. It’s also an important part of building our network. The more CIOs we have that are connected and engaged, the more we’re able to go after service providers, to engage with the organization.”

This I like. She’s talking about building a self-sustaining social venture. “How often do you run these—these crash courses?”

“We typically do two cycles a year. We have capacity for four but it depends on market demand. Say CDW wants to hire 10 QA analysts. That tells us, ‘All right—Jerry get your recruitment engine going again.’

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Tough Love

Do interns drop out?”

We fire people.”

I sit up in my chair and almost spill my coffee. “Fire them? After what they went through to get here?”

“We have a very strict attendance policy. You can’t be late or absent for four months.”icstars-hq2

“Not once?

“One and you go on probation. The second one, you’re let go. It’s the idea of, ‘How do you learn to take care of yourself—to show up on time?’”

I can hardly believe what I’m hearing. After that rigorous selection process, fired for missing a couple days? That’s what I call real tough love.

“What it really does,” She says, “is shine a spotlight on all those things that keep us from being reliable. And I mean substance abuse. Violent relationships. I’ve had boyfriends unplugging alarm clocks so that the woman would be late and lose her position because it was such a threat—she was learning so much—she was speaking differently—he was worried that she was going to outpace him or not need him.

“And so what that does is give us a real insight. icstars-hq8We might say, ‘Okay—here’s what you need to work on. Take six months. Fix this problem. Here are some resources. And then come back.’

“It’s not easy to come back though. They’ve got to go through an alumni interview. That’s rough. There are 13 things they have to do including a reading list. It’s rigorous. It’s not a free ride. Then the alums decide, ‘No this person shouldn’t represent our brand.’ That’s intense. But it’s important because it’s back to that idea that you’re fighting for something bigger than yourself. Can you really stake that claim?”

This calls for commitment level even higher than I realized and I seriously doubt I could stand up to it myself. icstars-hq6Getting in takes a special kind of person. Getting through is even tougher. No wonder Fortune 500 companies are so eager to hire i.c.stars alums.

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Growing the Venture

Sandee passes a hand over her brow then changes expression and I sense a change of subject.

“I’m working on expanding to Detroit, Milwaukee, and Denver.” She says. “I have a very interesting process that’s organic. Grass roots.”

What about growing this one location?”

“We’re looking at expanding the number of interns as well—getting up to about a hundred per year. But local expansion is about partnering with more organizations—it’s more of a channel strategy than trying to bring more people in here. We’re thinking through how we might plug in other organizations that are in the community. We’re exploring the concept of what a partnership would look like because there are certainly tons of opportunities in the market. It could be a primer—before i.c.stars—or a post i.c. stars plugin.

That make a whole lot of sense and it also occurs to me that more than one university graduate programs would be delighted build a program for candidates of this caliber. “So other people see your success—start up similar organizations—and that’s a good thing. I know you turn away people and it breaks your heart. I know you feel that way.”

She nods slowly. “It’s hard.”Sandee 11

Before I go, Sandee hands me some brochures—what she calls “propaganda.” But later I read it all and it’s some of the best material I’ve come across. You can download it below.

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DOWNLOAD I.C.STARS BROCHURE – (500K PDF)

GO BACK TO PART 1 – TALENT HIDES

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Contacts

i.c.stars – www.icstars.org

Sandee Kastrul, President and Co-Founder – sKastrul@icstars.org

Photos credits: i.c.stars.
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Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link . This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2014 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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4 Comments

Filed under Big Corporations, big money, chicago, Chicago Ventures, city, Conflict, Education, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Events, i.c.stars, Impact Investing, Innovation and Culture, jobs, philanthropist, philanthropy, Social Entrepreneur, Software, TechBash, The City